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Ensign of the Royal Navy animated.gif
AllegianceFlag United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.gif United Kingdom
BranchNaval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Part ofPlymouth Station (1914-1919)
Western Approaches Station (1919-1922)
Plymouth Station (1938-1941)
Western Approaches Command (1941-1946)
Garrison/HQR.N. Base, Liverpool
In CommandSenior Naval Officer, Liverpool
Flag Officer in Charge, Liverpool (1939-1945)
FirstRear-Admiral Harry Hampson Stileman
LastVice-Admiral James Wilfred Sussex Dorling

Liverpool was a naval base and area command of the British Royal Navy and major port city in Northwest England on the Irish Sea.[1]


The borough of Liverpool was founded in 1207. Since Roman times, the nearby city of Chester on the River Dee had been the region's principal port on the Irish Sea. However, as the Dee began to silt up, maritime trade from Chester became increasingly difficult and shifted towards Liverpool on the neighbouring River Mersey. As trade from the West Indies, including sugar, surpassed that of Ireland and Europe, and as the River Dee continued to silt up, Liverpool began to grow with increasing rapidity. The first commercial wet dock was built in Liverpool in 1715. Four more docks were built in the 18th century. Liverpool grew to be the third-largest port in the country behind London and Bristol

In the 18th century sugar refining became an important industry in Liverpool. Shipbuilding also became a flourishing industry. Rope making also prospered. (Rope was, obviously, needed in large amounts by ships). In Liverpool, there was also some manufacturing industry such as ironworking, watchmaking, and potter The port of Liverpool boomed in the 1800s and many new docks were built. By the middle of the century, Liverpool was second only to London. The Manchester ship canal was completed in 1894. Although the docks dominated Liverpool there were other industries such as shipbuilding, iron foundries, glass manufacture, and soap making.

Liverpool was Britain's main transatlantic convoy port during the Second World War. In late 1940 Prime Minister Winston Churchill decided that Plymouth was no longer suitable as the headquarters of Western Approaches Command.[2] She had become too vulnerable to German air raids and too distant from the main west-coats convoy ports and routes. He therefore ordered that a new Command Headquarters be set up in Liverpool, the country’s main and most central convoy port. By early 1941 the city had also became a major naval base and the headquarters of the Admiralty’s entire Atlantic campaign.

Naval HQ

Port of Liverpool in 1946. courtesy © Historic England

Senior Naval Officer, Liverpool (1914-1920)

  1. Rear-Admiral Harry Hampson Stileman, (retd), October, 1914.[1]
  2. Captain Harold Escombe, 1 April, 1919 – 1 January, 1920.[1]

Principal Naval Transport Officer, Liverpool (1915-1921)

  1. Captain (retired) John D. Daintree, 18 October, 1915 – 16 January, 1918.[1]
  2. Acting Captain Henry V. Simpson, 16 January, 1918 – 3 April, 1919.[1]
  3. Acting Captain Joseph Man, 3 April, 1919 – 15 November, 1919.[1]
  4. Captain (retired) Joseph Man, before January, 1921.[1]
Divisional Naval Transport Officer, Liverpool (1914-1919)
  1. Captain (retired) Charles W. S. Leggatt, 1 August, 1914 – 24 May, 1915.[1]
  2. Captain (retired) John D. Daintree, 31 May, 1915 – 18 October, 1915.[1]
  3. Commander (retired) Frank J. Thring, 16 June, 1916 – 23 July, 1919.[1]

Flag Officer-in-Charge, Liverpool (1938-1946)

Chief of Staff to Flag Officer-in-Charge Liverpool (1942-1944)

  1. Acting Captain Charles Ernest Maconochie, 10 March, 1942 - June, 1944.[3]

Liaison Officer for Naval Reserve & Merchant Navy Duties, Liverpool (1937-1939)

  1. Commander Cdr. C.J.L. Bittleston, 24 March,1937 – August, 1939.[4]

Divisional Naval Transport Officer, Liverpool (1940)

Captain (retired) Salisbury H. Simpson, 13 April, 1940 – 30 June, 1940.[1]

Other Senior Officers based at Liverpool

This includes senior officers based at Liverpool but reporting directly to the Commodore (D) Western Approaches.

Captain (D) Liverpool (1942-1945)

  1. Captain Frederic John (Johnnie) Walker, September, 1942 - February, 1943.[5]
  2. Captain Francis Stephen Walter de Winton 9 October, 1944 – July, 1945.[6]


At various times it encompassed naval formations and other ships not attached to other fleets. In addition to shore establishments including, barracks, dockyards, depots, hospitals, refitting and re-supply bases, naval bases or victualling yards. Those components that were part of this station are shown below.[7]

Naval Units

Units listed here were either under direct control of this command or were based at Liverpool but part of the Western Approaches Command in particular the convoy escort groups, these were usually commanded by a Captain D (Liverpool).

# Unit Date Ref
1 11th Minesweeping Flotilla 1918–1919
2 2 Escort Group 1944–1945
3 5 Escort Group 1941–1942
4 6 Escort Group 1941–1942
5 7 Escort Group 1941–1942
6 8 Escort Group 1941
7 9 Escort Group 1941
8 10 Escort Group 1944
9 14 Escort Group 1945
10 19 Escort Group 1945
11 22 Escort Group 1943, 1945
12 37 Escort Group 1942
13 28 Special Escort Group 1942
14 29 Special Escort Group 1942
15 30 Special Escort Group 1942
16 B3 Escort Group 1945
17 B2 Escort Group 1943–1945
18 B5 Escort Group 1943–1944
19 B6 Escort Group 1943–1944
20 B7 Escort Group 1943
21 Liverpool Escort Pool 1945
22 Liverpool Local Defence Flotilla 1914–1919
23 Liverpool Sloop Division 1941
24 Special Escort Division 1943


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 Harley, Simon; Lovell, Tony (18 April 2019). "Liverpool - The Dreadnought Project". England: Harley and Lovell. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  2. Houterman, Hans; Koppes, Jeroen. "World War II unit histories & officers: Royal Navy Western Approaches Command: Liverpool". Netherlands: Houterman and Koppes. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  3. Houterman and Koppes
  4. Houterman and Koppes
  5. Houterman, Hans; Koppes, Jeroen. "Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945 - W". Netherlands: Houterman and Koppes. Retrieved 3 September 2020.
  6. Houterman, Hans; Koppes, Jeroen. "Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945  --  D". Netherlands: Houterman and Koppes.
  7. The Navy List. (Dec 1920). p.694.